Keeping active all year
         Donít let the cooler weather and fewer hours of light affect your outdoor
activities. An article in the San Jose Mercury News in the fall of 1998 reported
that 10 million children in the U.S. are overweight - a record high.

         There are many things you can do to help ensure that your child keeps in
shape. A sound body contributes greatly to your childís mental health and
readiness to learn in school.

         Make short trips in town a family affair - and leave the car at home! There
are many places to which you can walk, take bikes, or use inline skates: friendsí
homes, neighborhood shopping, nearby parks, school.

         Expand your familyís activities to include new ventures. If you havenít
hiked together near your home, add this to your repertoire. If there is
paddleboating at a local lake, try that: it gets those feet moving!

         Set a cooperative tone in your approach to exercise. With a variety of
ages of children and different abilities of the adults, nobody has to win. Youíre
all having fun together as you keep in shape. For fun non-competitive games,
look for The New Games Book by the New Games Foundation.

         Many parents have discovered the ease of having childrenís parties
outside the house - less mess to clean up at home. As long as you are out, have
the kids set up and put themselves through an obstacle course. (And have them
help take it down, too.)

         Make sure your child is wearing clothing that is appropriate for physical
activity. Most girls are more comfortable in pants or shorts, rather than dresses,
for this. And pay special attention to footwear. Sturdy athletic shoes give the
support and stability that are not offered by sandals, jellies, boots, or dressy shoes
with no traction. 

         Even though children may have a supervised physical education class at
school, remember that they have a morning recess and lunch recess every day,
so they should be dressed for comfort during their daily physical activity.

         This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents

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